Moccasins Finish as National Runner-Up as Nova Pulls Away in Final Round
LOUISVILLE – Florida Southern jumped back in the national championship race late in the third round Friday, but Nova Southeastern was able to pull away early on Saturday and went on to win its fourth straight NCAA Division II national title. The Moccasins, who have also won four national titles in their history, finished as runner-up for the fifth time.
The Sharks ended up with a 20-stroke margin of victory after the Moccasins had cut the gap to nine going into the final round. Nova led after every round of the national finals after the Mocs had done the same in the Super Regional for a 12-stroke win over the Sharks. No other team was close enough to make a run at Nova on Saturday, with Grand Canyon holding onto third place, 39 strokes behind the Sharks and 19 behind the Moccasins.
Barry placed fourth, and was 50 strokes off the pace, and Tarleton State (TX) was fifth, finishing 57 strokes behind.
Nova had three of the top four golfers in the tournament, with Abbey Gittings winning medalist honors at 10-over par (298). She started the day in second place, one shot behind teammate Daniela Ortiz, but Gittings shot a 73 on Saturday while Ortiz shot a 77. That dropped Ortiz into a tie for third with another Nova golfer, Lilliana Cammisa; they each finished at 13-over (301).
Individual qualifier Meghan Moore of UNC-Pembroke finished second with a 12-over par (300), and had the best round of the day with a 72. It was one of only three rounds of even par in the entire tournament, and none of the 70 golfers had any rounds under par.
Florida Southern’s top finisher was M.J. Audette, who was seventh with a final score of 307 (74-80-74-79). The Mocs’ lone senior became the fifth Moccasin to have three straight top-10 finishes at the national tournament after placing fourth in 2010, and tenth last year. The Mocs have had at least one golfer place in the top-10 at nationals every year since the program’s first season in 1995-96.
Florida Southern’s best score on Saturday came from Megan Kiley, who shot a four-over par 76, her best round of the tournament. The junior finished in a tie for 16th place with a 318 overall. Junior Amy Hodgkinson also had her best round of the finals with a five-over par 77, which put her in 32nd place with a total score of 325.
In between the two juniors were sophomores Barbora Vejlupkova and Jackie Rajek. Vejlupkova was not one of the Mocs’ counters on Saturday after shooting an 87, but three previous rounds in the 70’s allowed her to finish in 22nd place with a total score of 320. Rajek had an 84 on Saturday and tied for 25th place with a total score of 322.
Nova secured the win by counting scores of 73, 73, 77, and 82 in the final round. The Sharks played most of the season with only four golfers, but they were enough to win a national championship in Amanda Brown’s first year as head coach. The finals was also a rubber match of sorts after Nova and Florida Southern had gone head-to-head in six previous tournaments this season, with each team finishing ahead of the other three times.
Nova and Florida Southern also continued the Sunshine State Conference’s dominance in women’s golf by claiming the top two spots in the standings. Since Division II began holding its own championship in 2000, a member of the SSC has won the title every year, and this was the tenth year the runner-up was also from the SSC.